Brand Strategy for the New Generation Z

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Figuring out a brand strategy for the new generation begins with understanding who the new generation is. When I was a first grade and middle school teacher, I was blown away by “Generation Z.” Generation Z is 19 and under, and makes up 25.9% of the economy. My two favorite moments of teaching provide insight into how brands must target the new generation of Z’ers and learn to speak their language.

These moments occurred with my middle school students, who are now 22 years old. In order to get closer to them and make them feel like I wasn’t just some old, antiquated teacher, (i.e. the same situation many brands are in right now), I had to listen carefully to them. They were used to sharing who they were, and being able to create their own conversations through content. They introduced me to a book series none of my friends had heard of called “Twilight” and told me about this new kid they saw perform at the mall named Justin Bieber.

I consider Generation Z the “insider trading” of what’s trending. They create the trends. They create the movements. They care about what’s going on in the world, and they believe that they can make that difference.

Here are three key lessons from Generation Z that brands can learn from.
 

Born in the Digital Age.


Generation Z’ers (and Millennials) know more than we do about technology and innovation. They were born using iPads instead of pacifiers. They know how to navigate YouTube as if they built it. While this is a generalization, they use technology to connect with each other and the world, rather than using it as an escape from the world. When talking with them, brands ought to recognize that they can learn from this generation, rather than telling them what it is cool.
 

Holistic Connections.


They want to be immersed in experiences that take them outside of what is comfortable. They aren’t looking at their future as a perfect shiny opportunity to become a doctor or lawyer and have great healthcare, they are looking across the world at their peers they connect with on Snapchat and Whatsapp and want to figure out ways to have deeper, globalized connections. They see different cultures, foods, stories, experiences and want to become a part of all of it. They would rather spend money on traveling and sharing Instagram photos of the new meal they tried rather than be paid big bucks to sit in a cubicle.
 

Building a Community.


They want to be heard and want to actively participate in what’s happening in the world. They don’t just want to tweet, they want to lead. They want to act, they want to share their stories and learn from each other. They want to show the world that they don’t need to be stuck in this existence the past generations have created for them, they have the ability to shape our future and they don’t want to listen to those before them who messed it all up.

All in all, I’ve learned immensely from my time teaching Generation Z - starting when my first graders told me to move over so they could show me how to use the smart board, to when my middle schoolers were showing me what was cool years before it was cool. I learned to listen to them. I learned that they know more than adults do, that they are tapped in, in an entirely different way. They get it. They do not want to be sold, they want to be a part of the process, and they want to feel like what they are purchasing, choosing, or being a part of is created by them.

 

The 5 Marketing Lessons We’ve Learned in 5 Years

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Five years ago, CatalystCreativ set out on a journey to help the people and brands we admire tell their stories. We’ve learned so much in that time, all thanks to the experiences we’ve had with you.

We thought we’d pass along the five biggest lessons we’ve learned along the way, and hope that they can be as meaningful to you as they have been for us!

 

  1. Brands are the best teachers in the world, they just need the right curriculum to teach their consumers about what they value.

    We learned this in our partnership with Life is Beautiful festival, the largest inner-city music festival in the nation. Each year, CatalystCreativ curates a speaker series that engages thousands of fans to learn from headliners such as Bill Nye, Stacy London and Rupaul. Learn more about our work with Life is Beautiful here.
     
  2. Without exception, the greatest resource of every organization is their team.

    We love helping teams to optimize their internal resources and create alignment so they can do their most powerful work. Learn about our strategy and internal brand acupuncture workshops with organizations such as Juran Consulting, a 75 year old consulting firm that wanted a brand refresh.
     
  3. Although creating impeccable work is of vital importance, the true magic happens when teams go above and beyond on a personal level.

    CatalystCreativ is thrilled to serve as the transition team for the Raiders as they move to Las Vegas. We have developed meaningful relationships with the entire Vegas Community who has come together to support the Raiders, and we can’t wait to see their continued growth. Learn more about our Raiders events here.
     
  4. Creative strategy should first and foremost be true to the DNA of the organization.

    No creative output will be effective if it isn’t rooted in the authentic ethos of the brand. Our recent #2000Reasons campaign with Biossance resulted in over 2,000 people sharing their reasons for taking better care of their bodies on Facebook and Instagram, all because it was a values-based ask.
     
  5. When organizations activate from within, they create movements that can catalyze world change.

    We are honored to work with some of the leading nonprofits that are actively contributing to a better world. Most recently, we have partnered with WildAid to connect marine professionals all over the globe to join together in protecting our marine life. Learn more about their revolutionary digital tool here.

 

Above all else, the biggest lesson we have learned is that we could never have come this far without the support of clients and partners like you. Thank you for all of your support, and for helping to shape who CatalystCreativ is today.

In celebration of our fifth birthday, we’ve applied all the insights that we’ve gained to our own brand, and are thrilled to share our new visual identity and ethos that represents how far we’ve come.

 

Here’s to the next 5 years!